Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Hot Air About Electricity

The managing director of Singapore Power says of the need to look for cheaper fuel, "I am already worried about next year's electricity prices." Obviously that concern was not about the financial impact on Singapore house holds. You see, electricity here is not subsidised because the Government claims it wants to encourage people to conserve energy and cut wastage. Meanwhile one old geezer is allowed to keep the room temperature of his office at 22 degrees Celsius, and that of his bedroom at 19 degrees Celsius. At taxpayers' expense.

If that gets you hot under the collar, note that last year, oil accounted for 17 percent of fuel for electricity production, natural gas for 77 percent, and waste and other sources for 6 percent. Yet that secret formula for calculating the household electricity tariff rate is still indexed against the price of oil.

During 2001-2003, the electricity market was "liberalised" to permit the privatised power stations to compete in providing power to about 10,000 non-residential consumers. The fruit of privatisation is delivered to the industrial giants, not to lesser mortals in their HDB cubicles. Oh yes, we know, the Gahment wants to encourage people to conserve energy.

All the hot air about alternative sources of fuel sources is of no practical value to the average Singaporean if they are simply alternate excuses to hike the electrical bills. The HDB began a $31 million 5-year trial in 2009 to supply solar power for common areas like corridors and stairwells. Meanwhile the residents living and studying inside their flats continue to pay exorbitant prices. And praying that the Town Council charges won't be raised to cover the expensive solar panels.

The really dumb idea has to be buying electricity from remote overseas foreign facilities, considering the pitfalls of grid security and the power source's political sustainability. Indonesia is building coal firing plants at Batam, with intent to sell electricity to Singapore and diverting the cleaner gas fuel to serve it's own Java instead. Are the recent lessons of being held hostage for drinking water from Johore so easily forgotten? Remember how the Japs turned off the pipeline at the Causeway and made the the British soldiers cry uncle? Asian Development Bank energy specialist Zhou Aiming is only scratching the surface of a potentially volatile situation when he pointed out that "countries trading electricity need to iron out interconnection standards and terms of the trade countries", conveniently choosing to skip the political realities.

The Energy Market Authority estimates Singapore currently uses at most one third of it's licensed 9,890 MW power generation capacity. Scrap all the fancy talk, how about giving some of the excess capacity to the citizens? Or is that reserved for the next pre-election hand-out?


  1. Excuse me...you need to take note...

    The British surrender to the Japanese because they capture the main reservour in singapore...

    The British commandered in charge surrender because the island of singapore has too many refugees and not enough portable drinking water to go around.

    And right now, PAP government sill aim to increase population of singapore to un-substainable levels.

    That is stupidity for you to see...and show everybody else how really "wise" the PAP ministers/clowns truely are.


  2. There are plenty of sensible discourses and some very good ideas on improving our livings in this tiny island.
    The unfortunate thing is that they are mostly in writings and talkings, hardly anything on the ground.
    Are Singaporeans only good at talks but too shy to walk?

  3. the sold our power to a Malaysian con artist who is now trying to rip off prime land from small traders in Bukit Bintang. So what did you really expect?

  4. Hmm.. I have to disagree on this one Tattler. If you had excess capacity, wouldn't you want to export them if there are no trade barriers? To do that, the converse (elimination of import barriers) is expected.

  5. The other sad thing about that 77% of our electricity coming from natural gas is that someone peg its price with our Indonesian neighbours using some formula that essentially mirrored the Crude Oil going price. I stand corrected, but believe it is Not gospel true that crude oil are found in the same well / field as natural gas. Anyway, the bottom line is that we are not getting the fair price / tariff. Not with at least two of the genco being foreign owned ! To me that was a sell-out of strategic assets.

  6. It is the same secret formula that is used to calculate the price of land.

  7. HDB talks so big about trying out solar panels. Look around many countries are already using solar panels for years. When I was traveling in Turkey in 1996, I noticed many if not all households there already have solar panels which might be for the water heating for technology at that time. Do we have any single one that time? We are very advance indeed. In what? LOL.

  8. Yes, USA, Europe, Australia already used solar panels for years and you can sell back the solar energy back to the grid. And, governments there have many incentives to encourage and subsidize installation of such device. How much has our millions government done so far? Still testing for supply to HDB common areas? Sure, there is a scheme to allow private companies to install solar panels to sell back solar energy to town councils. Such scheme is either to control who and who can get the benefits (remember the car seat belt saga many years back), or simply pass the financial investment risk to the private sector. Are we really advance or wanting to be advance? LOL.

  9. Does it take a genius to figure out whether it make sense for our govt to sell our power stations to foreign companies only to end up allowing these foreign companies to sell the electricity produced in these same power stations back to us at a higher rates ?

    It is not as if these foreign companies can produce/sell their power at cheaper rates and neither are they do it for charity ?

    Was there any real competition to begin with ?

  10. You must have missed that wikileaks document. They are pressurized by US to open up the market. Typical US lapdog, no surprise there.
    They could have gone ahead and do solar, but they rather make the money than letting citizens save money.

  11. Trust the Sin Government!

    Everything is done for the
    good of Singaporeans.

    One day when the Government
    is changed, Singaporeans
    will regret.

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